When I think of the word “kingdom,” I think of grandeur and royalty—a place where lords and ladies walk about. There is, of course, a castle and beautiful gardens. There are well-behaved children running around in pristine white clothing. There is a monarchy that loves both the people and the land in hopes of championing both. Oh, and there’s evil, but good always triumphs.
Okay, basically, when I think of the word kingdom, I think of my daughter’s favorite movie, The Princess Diaries, and Genovia, the fictional kingdom in that movie, is quite lovely. But is that what God intends for us to think when we read verses like “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33)?
And is that what Jesus had in mind when He told the disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10)? Are we asking God to bring upon us His glorious kingdom where righteousness is the scepter (Ps. 45:6) and tears are gone forever and life is perfect and lovely all the time? Well actually, the answer is both yes and no.
The Kingdom of God Is Both Now and Not Yet
The Scriptures tell us there is a physical, earthbound kingdom still to come in which Christ will rule as King. In John 14:2–3 Jesus tells the disciples, “If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Therefore, with confidence we can say as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:18, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.” An everlasting kingdom is coming where Christ reigns eternally—and righteousness and justice and peace are equal partners in a society forever set on bringing glory to God.
And it will be amazing. Like nothing we can even fathom (1 Cor. 2:9). Though now we suffer for a little while, it’s “not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). So we wait with eager expectation, longing for the day Christ will make things right, praying with confidence in our faithful God, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
The Physical Kingdom of God Is Coming
So then Jesus encourages us to pray, “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10) that we might not lose hope. That our focus would stay on the eternal instead of the temporary, laying up treasure in heaven instead of filling our houses or closets or pocketbooks.
But if we focus on only the future physical kingdom of God, we miss out on the present spiritual kingdom of God.
In the gospels Jesus spoke often of the kingdom of heaven, declaring from the start of his ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). It’s the same message John the Baptist declared. Paul lived in Rome two years, “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:30–31). Because in Christ, the kingdom of God is also right now.
The Spiritual Kingdom of God Is Already Here
It doesn’t matter what the world says. The truth is that even now, “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). The reign of Christ isn’t on hold until He returns—it’s always been and will always be ongoing. Thus, through Christ’s death and resurrection and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us, even now by grace through faith God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).
In Christ, we are already part of the kingdom of God and citizens of heaven, so Christ, not sin, might rule in our hearts. Our goal, then, as believers is to promote God’s kingdom and not our own, making visible the spiritual kingdom of God which is not yet visible, that others might see the glory of the gospel, repent, and know the reign of Christ in their own hearts.
All the way back in Exodus, we learn that it was God’s intention for Israel to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19:6)—carrying the marvelous truths of our Creator to the rest of the world, but they failed. But get this, Revelation 1:5–6 says Christ has now made “us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.” Why? So the world might see and know the truths of our Creator.
We Have a Job to Do
We have a job to do that we can’t do apart from Christ. And so we pray “your kingdom come,” that Christ might rule in our hearts. That we might first and foremost accomplish God’s plan and purpose. That we might live as ambassadors of Christ who are busy proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called us “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
When we act in the flesh and not the Spirit, we tend to promote our own kingdoms, but when we pray “your kingdom come,” we realign with our proper place—because a true servant of God prays for the reign of God both now and later.
As David prayed in 1 Chronicles 29:11, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” So do we pray, “your kingdom come,” that the greatness of our God might be seen in the world today—through believers, through God’s Spirit at work in the church, and through the glory of Christ already revealed.
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28), praying “your kingdom come” with hearts that truly mean it and mouths willing to declare it and feet ready to take God’s kingdom wherever He might lead.
Father, we pray for the return of Christ. Come Lord Jesus, come. But until that day, may it be Your kingdom we fight for and not our own. Your kingdom come today and every day, that holiness might prevail in our hearts and the hearts of believers everywhere. Help us, Father, to make Your kingdom visible as we love You and love others. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.